Monday, November 10, 2008
"In a Dream"
LONDON, England -- Sheffield Doc/Fest is a film festival, industry session programme and market place making for five intense days in November.
This is the festival’s 15th year and our first day was on Thursday, the 6th. We took a red-eye flight from Philadelphia, PA to Manchester, arriving early, dirty and exhausted. After hopping the train to Sheffield, we went straight to the Showroom Cinemas where our film was having its first screening. All we wanted was a few hours of sleep but there was no time.
The movie is called “In A Dream” and we began filming more than seven years ago. What began as a film about my father -- a well-known mosaic artist, and storyteller soon became a love story about my parents’ relationship as it teetered after 40 years on the verge of collapse.
Doc/Fest is the film’s international premiere, marking the first time we’ve shown it outside our native USA. The film will air in America next summer on HBO and since Doc/Fest is attended by hundreds of European buyers and film executives, we’re hoping the screenings here help us to attract a European broadcaster.
The first screening went very well. After the film, there was time for a short Q&A.
“How is your family doing?”
“They’re good, thanks.”
“Are they still totally crazy?”
“Yeah, but in a good way…”
Just after the screening we were approached by representatives from the UK label of two of the bands whose music we used in the film (Colleen and Efterklang). They loved the movie, and we love their music so we all get drunk together, talked and laughed and made toasts to the movie and to the festival and to America’s incredibly brilliant and handsome new president Barack Obama.
“In A Dream” has one more screening at Doc/Fest. You can see it 7pm (1900) Saturday, 11/8 at the Showroom Cinemas. For more information on the film and to see a trailer, visit http://www.hzfilms.com/
There are over 150 films at this year’s festival from all over the world. The party ends on Sunday night.
-- Jeremiah Zagar (Director) with additional writing by Jeremy Yaches (Producer)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
LONDON, England -- Damien Hirst's formaldehyde shark and gilded calf are sold for millions while banks crumble, but art has always delighted in courting paradox and eluding definition.
The same can be said for the documentary "Beautiful Losers." Opening with an artist describing a painting as "so bad that I love it," the story, just as the art it documents, resists conventional categorization.
The story follows a tightly-knit group of like-minded thinkers in the early 1990s who gravitated towards a small NYC storefront gallery called Alleged and combined to create easily accessible art that would reflect their lives.
Following in the traditions of Warhol and Basquiat, this creative think-tank drew on their diverse roots in the DIY subcultures of skateboarding, surf, punk, hip-hop and graffiti to assert their conviction that art could be brought down to street level and out of the sometimes ivory-towered, intellectual elite of international galleries.
Directed by founder of the movement and Alleged gallery owner Aaron Rose, the documentary traces the rags to riches story of the group who, despite little formal artistic training, now tour the world with their Beautiful Losers exhibition, featuring anything from installation art to graffiti.
With a soundtrack scored by Beastie Boy collaborator Money Mark, we are introduced to the variety of artists that comprise the group. They include (among others) Harmony Korine, screenwriter of controversial drama "kids," "Thumbsucker" director Mike Mills and Geoff McFetridge, a graphic artist who counts highly successful adverts for Pepsi and Nike among his commercial achievements.
The collective also boasts the acclaimed graffiti artist Barry McGee and his late wife Margaret Kilgallen. A formidable artist in her own right, Kilgallen's passing provides a touching backdrop to the history of the group, and the feature contains a tribute to her role as a driving force in Beautiful Losers artistic development and integrity.
As the audience watches the Beautiful Losers exhibition snowball to worldwide acclaim, it is treated to an uplifting story of self-belief, creativity and success against the odds.
Oscar Wilde once said a critic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing -- but it is the undeniable value of their art that "Beautiful Losers" impresses.
The ability to harness their wealth of creativity and insist upon its worth long before public recognition is worthy of respect from even the most cynical.
Although this inspirational and uplifting work could be criticized for being overlong, it is nevertheless mandatory viewing for anyone with creative aspirations.
Beautiful Losers will be screened at the London Film Festival on October 18 at 18.30 and October 21 at 16.15.
-- From CNN's Simon Laub
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Six hours in Cannes
It's 530am and I'm sitting in the lobby of the plush Grand Hotel in Cannes with my editor James. We're trying to use the hotel's free wi-fi service to feed to the Atlanta news desk a report we've just completed on the start of Cannes Film Festival's 60th anniversary. We are confronted by the irate night porter who accuses us of trying to sleep for free in the lobby of his hotel. A prickly debate ensues in which neither party fully comprehends the other. Finally he storms off with a uniquely gallic contemptuous wave of his arm, spitting the words "Le Presse! Pah!!!" No comprehension problems with that.
We lose the internet connection. We mutter darkly that it's an act of revenge by the night manager and we haul up our equipment and trudge along Cannes' famous promenade, La Croisette, to the even more sumptuous Carlton Hotel. The staff here are much more welcoming to us as they prepare breakfast for their guests. We manage to feed our report and step back on to the promenade to find no taxis in sight and a 20 minute walk back to our apartment, carrying our gear. I have a screening to attend in three hours.
The possession of a press pass at the world's most famous film festival is no guarantee that you'll actually get to see any films. I have been promised an interview with British actor Jude Law and U.S. singer-songwriter-turned-actress Norah Jones along with the notable Chinese director Wong Kar Wei concerning his first English-language film "My Blueberry Nights." It's clearly important that I see the film before the interview so plan to arrive an hour before the screening.
To my horror, I find a long line of people stretching from the steps in front of the Palais. A very long line. Thoughts of grabbing a bottle of water or visiting the toilet to prepare for a cosy two hours watching a movie disappear with the obvious need to get in line as quickly as possible.
An hour later my neck is sunburnt and thought of water and the toilet have been an ever-present for the past 45 minutes. The adrenalin surges as the holders of the coveted pink pass (mainly on-air talent) are admitted to the 2,000-seater cinema.
After a wait during which I feel I can actually witness global warming around me, the humble blue pass (producers and wordsmiths) are admitted - but only about a hundred of us make it inside before the dreaded words are issued by security: "C'est complet!" I made the cut by just eight people.
I looked back at the confrontation blossoming behind me as three hundred lightly toasted members of the international press corps discover that their morning standing in the sun has been entirely fruitless. I imagine the Liverpool fans who were refused admission to the Champions League Final unknowingly share a common bond with this unhappy group.
As one of the lucky ones I was able to bask in my good fortune just as far as the entrance to the theatre. That was when I realised that getting inside and getting a seat inside provided another stratum of separation.
The lights were already down and through the dark I could make out silhouetted heads jostling for position and angry words exchanged in French, Italian and an Eastern European language I couldn't identify. I have never before watched a film standing up. Nor have I done so with my back to the screen looking over my right shoulder compressed between several other unseen strangers; not to mention the contrasting distractions of a full bladder and a parched throat.
After two hours of this my neck felt as if it had been dislocated and any attempt to return it to a more traditional vista met with excruciating pain, which served as an exceptional means of staying awake despite the nocturnal working hours of the previous night.
I'm not a critic but I regard it as a relatively positive measure of a film if it can sustain my interest and even invoke moments of considerable pleasure during such trying circumstances. As the credits roll I join the throng of other journalists racing for the after-screening press conference. I hear two aristocratic English voices discussing the merits of Jude Law's contribution to the film in less than flattering terms while complementing each other on their own wit and observations. The accents hint at a privileged upbringing and the tone of their conversation clearly belonged to that other privileged class - the ones who got seats!
With a derisory "Pah!" which might even have impressed the night porter of the Grand Hotel I stalk off round the corner to join the queue for the press conference.
My morning is about to take a turn for the worse as I spot the sign: "C'est Complet!"
The Screening Room
Friday, April 27, 2007
Myleene's blog: Meeting Robert De Niro at Tribeca
I’ve come all the way to New York to cover the Tribeca Film Festival and it’s just been the most incredible three days! I’ve managed to seek out so many places where they’ve filmed movies that it feels like I’ve been living on a movie set while I’ve been here!
One dream for me was to stand in Grand Central Station, just because it’s so iconic. So many films have been shot there. I also went over Manhattan in a cable car, which brought home the power that New York has as a filming unit, and took a ride around Central Park in a horse drawn buggy, which was another dream come true. Everyone has seen a movie that featured a scene in Central Park. There’s just so much energy here.
We had a great opportunity on our first day here to go on the film set of “August,” Josh Hartnett’s new movie. Not only is he acting in it but he’s producing it as well, so it was a real treat to see the man at work and to sit on a real live movie set. It was just fascinating for an outsider – the attention to detail was phenomenal. It’ll be a very interesting movie. To cover the period just weeks before 9/11 is an interesting concept.
But I know what you really want to hear about.
Today’s the day that I met De Niro.
When I woke up this morning I beat the alarm clock, which is not very usual for me, but I was so excited. I mean, De Niro is king among kings and there’s not one person in any demographic or generation that doesn’t admire him. He’s made such an impression, not just on my own life, but on a lot of people’s. He is a legend, and rightly so.
A lot of people who’ve interviewed him or know him well say that he’s actually quite a shy man; when somebody is deemed an icon, that’s a lot of pressure. Well, it was incredible. He talked and talked: he was very animated. He’s a lovely bloke. He gesticulated as you’d want him to in one of his gangster movies -– the “You talkin’ to me” thing -– and did the New York shrug -– I liked it a lot!
He has an amazing passion for the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s something of a phoenix that grew from the ashes of 9/11 not only for him but for most New Yorkers. The 9/11 aftermath was so depressing for so many, but Tribeca gave them some light and he provided that.
He has been described as peerless, and I agree: who else can rival De Niro? He provides a lot of hope for people, a lot of entertainment. He is the daddy! He was the ultimate interview for me –- so warm, so charismatic, so friendly. I’ve seen him in so many roles, and it was so nice just to meet him as he is -– a very charming man.
Catch my interview with Robert De Niro on CNN's The Screening Room this weekend. Hope you enjoy it -- and see you next month!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
New York in the movies
Every film needs a setting -- and no city has played more of a starring role in the movies than New York.
Our "New York in the Movies" gallery takes you through the Big Apple's greatest appearances, from King Kong to Annie Hall, Goodfellas to Ghostbusters.
We hope you enjoy the ride -- and your comments and suggestions are welcome, as always.
Launch the "New York in the Movies" gallery >>
Top 10 gangster movies
We got such a great response to our Top 10 Battle Scenes list last month - thanks to everyone who wrote in!
This month, we're celebrating Robert De Niro's career, so we want to know your top 10 gangster movies. We've picked our top 10 mob-related flicks - plus the ones we'd like to see sleep with the fishes...
The Screening Room's Top 10 Gangster Films
Have a look at our list, and send us your comments, plus any you think we've missed. (There are certainly some - it was really tough to whittle the list down.)
ABOUT THIS BLOGThe Screening Room brings you the inside track on all aspects of the movie business around the globe. Find out what presenter Myleene Klass has been up to, and send us your comments and suggestions for our Top 10 movie list of the month.